After a long weekend full of crêpes, sightseeing, tram riding, and window shopping, our last stop in Paris was the Lourve. The Lourve was high up on my list of things to do in Paris. I wanted to go see Monet’s paintings and other french artists, and of course, I had to see Mona Lisa’s following eyes. I was so excited to finally get inside the amusement park of all art museums that I forgot how beautiful the outside of the Lourve was going to be. I was overwhelmed by the sight of the modern glass pyramids sitting next to the contrasting neoclassical buildings. The “shadows” of the pyramids were fountains that flowed so smoothly as if they were glass like the pyramids above them. While I was looking around in awe, something interesting caught my eye. I noticed a man sitting at the corner of the fountain and the pyramid drawing with ink on his sketchbook. I ran over to him to see his work of art. He was sketching the neoclassical structure in front of him with the utmost detail and patience. He was truly talented and after I spoke to him, he was also very kind. I was glad I noticed this man, because even though there are so many masters inside the Lourve, he will always remind me of the talent that remains outside of the art museums. Who knows, may he will become the next famous artist of our time.
Yesterday was a whirlwind of not only traveling, but also emotions reacting to the past. We started off the day at the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, a very important Orthodox church in WWII history. To explain the significance, I have to first give a little background information.
During the Nazi occupation, Reinhard Heydrich was appointed to be the Protector of Prague. Heydrich was known as one of the darkest Nazi’s and some titled him the successor of Hitler. Heydrich was the mastermind behind the “final solution”, which was a plan to exterminate all Jews. Today this is known as the Holocaust. At the time that Heydrich was the Protector, Czechoslovakia wasn’t considered on the “political map”. In the eyes of other countries, Czechoslovakia did not show resistance to Germany. In order to prove that the country wanted to oppose German rule, Great Britain helped Czech exiles formalize a plan to assassinate Heydrich. Two Czech paratroopers were trained by British secret service in order to carry out the plan to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich.
The paratroopers were successful in the assassination attempt and hid in the Church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. They went through the trap door photographed above in order to hide in a crypt beneath the church. When the Nazi’s found out where Heydrich’s assassins were hiding, they shot at a small window of the crypt and then preceded to flood their hideout. The paratroopers did not survive, but the assassination of Heydrich, in the long run, helped the Czech Republic become an independent country.
Devastation in the Czech Republic shortly followed the event of Heydrich’s death. To make up for Heydrich’s death and to prove his power, Hitler ordered that Lidice, a village near Prague, be bombed and leveled. However, the command was based on false intelligence stating that the two assassins were from this village. Our class was very lucky to visit not only the hideout church, but also the area where Lidice once prospered.
The Church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius was beautiful on the inside. However, once we lifted the rugs, it was hard not to notice the trapped door where the paratroopers first entered the crypt. Seeing that trap door made me imagine how they must have felt as they stepped into their hideout. The paratroopers must have felt both mentally and physically trapped by the fear of not knowing a way to be free from the Nazi’s.
Once deep underground, I noticed how the crypt was eerie, damp, and depressing. The crypt now is a memorial for the paratroopers who lost their lives against the Nazi’s and I was glad we got to experience such a significant part of history.
On our second day, we visited the Olšany Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Prague. The Olšany Cemetery was originally created for the plague victims of Prague, but it now houses many famous writers, artists, and actors. This cemetery was like no other I had seen before. Beautiful vines and trees were in every direction. Tulips, baby’s breath, and wildflowers were unexpectedly growing on top of many burial sites. The Art Nouveau tombstones were my favorite because they seemed to fit in perfectly within their natural surroundings. I found a few tombstones that were tree sculptures with long branches that seemed to be weeping over the names of those deceased. Even though so many bodies were buried in this cemetery, the cemetery was not as frightening as I imagined because of all the calming nature around it. I noticed there were many mothers with their strollers walking around the cemetery, so they probably also felt somewhat comfortable in the cemetery. Earlier that day in class, we learned about the techniques of depth of field and motion, so the cemetery was a great place to practice this. In attempt to create a ghostly picture in the not so frightening cemetery, I tried a motion technique on the photo posted. The fence photographed stood out to me because the Star of David was not often found in this cemetery. Also, this fence had unique detail in the structure, compared most of the plain surrounding fences. Every tombstone was not only a memorial, but a piece of art worth seeing and I definitely want to come back to view more.